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Book production costs [Mar. 1st, 2010|03:07 pm]
...or, how to reply to the "authors should sell ebooks directly to readers" or "why are ebooks so expensive?" arguments. This post by Charles Stross lays out the details. Read some of the comments if you've got time - they're very informative, and involve a lot of back-and-forth between Stross and his readers.

[User Picture]From: celtic_elk
2010-03-02 04:45 pm (UTC)
The pricing difference is variable depending on the format in which you usually buy your print books. True, a $10 ebook is substantially more expensive than a $3.99 or $5.99 mass market paperback, but it's substantially less than an $18-25 new release hardcover, which seems to be the usual point of comparison, as ebooks are (usually) released at about the same time as hardcovers and are therefore expected to cannibalize hardcover sales. (It's an open question whether that's actually true, but it seems logical to assume that dedicated ebook readers sell best to avid readers, who are more likely to purchase hardcovers.) Various reports I've seen on the Web suggest that the publisher's unit cost to print a hardcover run works out to something like 15% of the list price, so roughly $3-4 on that new hardcover pays for the book's printing. The remainder represents both cost-coverage and profit for the publisher and the distributor. I don't know what the economics of books which are only published in paperback form are like, but I'm guessing that they just run substantially lower margins and make up the difference in volume.

I don't know what the optimal solution is with respect to DRM. Sure, the availability of books via lending libraries hasn't put bookstores or publishers out of business, but library copies don't facilitate lossless digital copying and infinite distribution the way that ebooks do.
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[User Picture]From: branchandroot
2010-03-02 05:20 pm (UTC)
I think Baen has actually answered the DRM question pretty well. It's unnecessary. Yes, there is going to be piracy, and open copies makes it a bit faster. But Weber publishes books with CDs containing every previous book to date and invites people to pass them around and post them on the web, and Baen says he hasn't lost anything by it. *shrugs*

This may change as epaper matures, I suppose, but that still assumes that the same people who can spend 6 dollars on a paper book can also spend two hundred on a cranky reader plus another four per book on the book itself. I, for one, do not yet find that epaper that compelling!
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